CSMCE | Profiles

Charles James helps a student

Charles James

Noyce Teaching Fellow, Master of Arts with an Emphasis in Mathematics Teaching

Secondary Mathematics Teacher
Schuyler Community Schools

Math does not come easy for everyone. For Charles James, the thrill comes when he can help someone find mathematics to be just a bit easier.

“Ever since my elementary-school days, I was one of the few kids who actually enjoyed math,” James said. “I enjoyed working with numbers and even played mathematical games on long car rides. Math was my best subject, so when it came time to decide a major for college, math seemed to be my only logical choice.”

Originally from Pleasant Plains, Ill., James attended Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill., and majored in mathematics. He worked as a mathematics tutor for students ranging in age from 18 to 50.

“I enjoyed helping them learn, and it made me realize that teaching could be the career for me,” he said. “Thanks to the tutor position that my college professor gave me, I obtained a joy in teaching mathematics.”

He also found himself thinking like a teacher when he was still just a student. “I often wondered how I would teach this subject if I were the professor,” James added.

James applied for the MAmt program at the encouragement of his fiancée, Elizabeth, who was an elementary education major at UNL.

“I was intrigued by the MAmt opportunity because I really liked we would be in a school all year for the internship,” James said. “This would give me the experience I needed to decide for certain if teaching was right for me.”

After student teaching with Pat Janike at Lincoln High School, James was hired as a secondary mathematics teacher at Schuyler Community Schools in eastern Nebraska. His wife also was hired by Schuyler as an elementary teacher.

“When I met with Schuyler’s administration, I was impressed with the commitment to the students and to technology,” James said.

Greg Pavlik, Schuyer Central High School’s principal, said James has made a seamless transition from student to professional educator.

“His understanding of the planning and preparation process puts him way ahead of other first-year teachers,” Pavlik said. “Support was in place for him all year as a student-teacher.”

James said the most important thing he learned from the program was patience.

“The MAmt program is a great way to use your existing mathematical knowledge and learn how to provide instruction to middle and high school students. The internship shows you how the courses relate to the classroom,” James said. “When teachers find ways for students to engage in class it improves motivation and gives students the belief they can succeed in mathematics.”